Valentine's Day is a day to show love
Valentine's Day is a day to show love

Beware of Valentine's day online scam; Over GH₵ 3.5 million was lost to online shopping, romance scam in 2023 

The Cyber Security Authority (CSA) has advised the public to be cautious and exercise due diligence in online activities with special emphasis on shopping especially for the upcoming Valentine's Day.

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In a press statement dated Wednesday, February 7, 2024, the CSA warned the public to be cautious of "too good to be true" deals and packages and only use reputable online marketplace or retailer when purchasing gifts.

That, it said, was because although the Valentine's Day was an occasion when people show their affection for others by sending gifts or items with messages of love, malicious cyber actors also use the celebration to defraud unsuspecting victims through various schemes. 

“Of the total losses recorded for 2023, at least GH¢ 3,558,940 was lost through online shopping and romance scams,” it disclosed. 

Methods 

The CSA explained that these criminals create fake websites or online shops or impersonate existing businesses on social media and offer  heavily discounted packages and items. 

Victims are then enticed to send money for these items which they never receive, or receive in substandard forms.
It added that some also create fake business listings or profiles with their contact details on Google Maps mimicking legitimate businesses or brands.

The statement elaborated that the then use search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques to manipulate search results for the targeted brand to divert legitimate inquiries to their contact numbers. 

“After the unsuspecting victims engage and pay (usually to a mobile money wallet) for products, the scammers block them from making further contact, and the expected delivery does not materialise,” it stressed.

It further stated that some of these malicious actors engage in romance scams where they create fake online profiles to deceive victims into believing they are engaging in a trusting relationship. 

They then use the relationship to persuade the victims to send money, provide personal and financial information, or purchase items for them.

The CSA advised online shoppers to look for reviews and customer feedback before making an online purchases particularly during the Valentine period. 

“While search engines provide convenient access to information, they can also display manipulated or misleading results. Check on the official websites or with reliable sources to validate the contact details of shops rather than relying solely on search engine results,” it added. 

The statement also cautioned the public to be on the look out for hyped Valentine's day adverts, especially on Facebook, Instagram, and Telegram and in most cases request a physical location to enable validation. 

“The CSA has a 24-hour Cybersecurity/Cybercrime Incident Reporting Point of Contact (PoC) for reporting cybercrimes and for seeking guidance and assistance on online activities. Call or Text -292, WhatsApp - 050 160 3111, Email - [email protected],” it added.

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